Baseball coach named at THS
It took four months, but Tonganoxie school board members finally decided who will be the new baseball coach.
At its monthly meeting on Monday, the board hired Tonganoxie Athletics Director John Lee as the head coach.
Andy Gilner, who was the other applicant for the job, was hired as the team's assistant coach.
"We both knew we were the only applicants for the job," Lee said. "We had kind of an understanding that whoever got head coach, the other would step in as assistant."
That is a role Gilner is accustomed to. He has served as the team's assistant for the last 11 years, helping it earn five league championships and a third place finish in state in 1992.
Both coaches bring college-level experience to the team. Lee played at Baker University, and Gilner played at Allen County Community College.
Now that the coaching staff has been squared away, Lee has turned his focus on the upcoming season and his players.
"I challenge the kids to work hard before the season starts," he said. "We've got an opportunity to win a lot of games this year."
Last season, Gilner and former coach Chris Herron lead the team to within one win of making the state tournament. Lee said that he and Gilner were ready to help the team build on that success.
One of Lee's main goals is to get the team to the level where it consistently makes it to the state tournament.
"I'm curious to see who's going to want to step up and work this winter," Lee said.
Lee said one of his biggest concerns was finding pitchers.
Senior Ryan Lowe is the only returning player that Lee has seen pitch in a game.
All in all, Lee said that several key players from last season team were returning, and that he looked forward to a fruitful season.
"I feel that with the strong players we have coming back, we have a pretty good opportunity for success," Lee said.